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Eating Local: Your Ultimate Guide to Seacoast CSA Programs

CSA WEB GRAPHIC

Have you ever wished you could reduce your carbon footprint while feeding your family healthy local foods? The 2016 growing season is well underway and it’s not too late to participate in one of the many Seacoast-area CSA programs! Keep reading for some CSA 101 and your guide to the local programs offered throughout the Seacoast and beyond.

What is a CSA?

The acronym CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. A concept rooted in the Biodynamic Farming movement, the CSA model fosters a partnership between farmer and consumer via a shared risk/reward membership-marketing structure. In its most basic form, customers pay a set “share” fee at the beginning of the growing season in exchange for weekly pickup of fresh seasonal fruits, veggies, and various other farm products. Typically, seasonal shares run May – October though many alternate options are available. The contents, structure and pickup locations vary from farm to farm making it certain that you can find the right fit for your needs. This structure creates a mutually beneficial system of security and capital for the farmer while providing high quality local products from a known source for the consumer.

What to Expect

IMG_4047Two decades ago, CSAs were few and far between and the choices of products were limited. I was quite happy with my CSA at that time but I had to drive a considerable distance for on-site pickup.  Today the choices are marvelously varied. The diversified products available in addition to seasonal veggies might include: berries, apples, flowers, honey, dairy products, eggs, maple syrup, mushrooms, herbs, seedlings, bread, beef, chicken, pork, foraged items and even local seafood shares. Full veggie shares are in the range of $400-$600 and feed 2-5 while half shares can be had for around $200-$375 and feed 1-3. Some examples of add-ons include meats, eggs, dairy products, maple syrups, fruits, bread and mushrooms.  At the end of the summer season many farms will offer a “winter share” which usually includes storage items such as onions, garlic, squash, carrots and other root vegetables OR a variety of greenhouse grown fresh produce. Winter shares are usually collected once a month and may also include options for local meats and eggs.

VariationsIMG_3486

Weekly Pickup of seasonal farm selected produce – This model is the oldest and most straightforward of all the structures.  You will pickup a weekly share of seasonal produce and product at a predetermined location. Often CSA owners will provide recipes and ideas for using unfamiliar products. Some farms with on site pickup allow for a “drop” table where you can discard items that don’t appeal to you and pickup others that have been traded. Most often with this style of pickup, you can choose from a variety of pickup locations most convenient to you.

Debit Style or Gift Card Program  Some CSAs will allow you to pay for a share in advance of the season at a discount and then use your credits to purchase whatever you want at the time of pickup. This method works better for families who want more autonomy with their selections.

Work Shares – Unable to pay in advance for your share? Many farms offer or require various arrangements for working shares and financial aid.

Benefits – Participants will learn about new foods, support local agriculture, reduce their carbon footprint, collaborate in local food production and potentially even gain some new farm skills. Farmers benefit by sharing risk with their participants and having a predetermined income stream.

Questions for the FarmIMG_0667  

  • What is the variety of vegetables and products offered?
  • What are the growing practices of the farm? Organic, Non-GM, IPM, No-Spray, Antibiotic free, Pasture Raised, Grass-Fed?  What is the total volume of produce expected?
  • What are the running dates of the “share?” Seasonal shares are typically 16-20 weeks.  Some also offer summer only, fall only or winter shares.
  • What are the pickup locations?
  • What are the payment requirements including work-share possibilities?
  • What are the “missed pickup” protocols?
  • What add-ons are offered and for what cost?


CSA Farms – ACT FAST to reserve your shares!FIDDLEHEAD PHOTO

Abundance Acres Farm: Wildcraft/Foraged CSA – Monthly shares of herbal preparations, including tinctures, salves, syrups, and vinegars (June through November). Sampler shares available. Classes included. Pick-up locations: Strafford, Dover, Portsmouth. Contact: jenq@tds.net (Post Author’s Farm)

Applecrest Farm: Fruit and veggie, market share, and herb and flower shares available. Add on options: eggs, bread, creamery, and milk. Pick-up locations in Portsmouth, Rye, Kingston and at the farm in Hampton Falls. Contact: info@applecrest.com

Bartlett Farm: Vegetable CSA shares available. Pick-up location at the farm in Eliot, ME. Contact: (207) 439-3083

Black Kettle Farm: Certified organic. Vegetable shares. Pick up locations: Lyman and Portland, ME. Contact: blackkettlefarm@gmail.com

Blue Bell Greenhouse: IPM. A very affordable pick-your-own CSA in Lee, NH.  Member planting, weeding and harvesting. Contact: amyuda@bluebellgreenhouse.com for details.

Brandmoore Farm: Certified Organic. Vegetables shares available. Add-ons include: Fruit, Flowers, Meat, Dairy Products, and Bread. Farm pick-up in Rollinsford. Contact: Brandmoorefarm@gmail.com

Brookford Farm: Certified Organic. CSA shares can include grass-fed dairy products, vegetables, pasture raised eggs, pork, beef and broilers, farm grown/stone milled flour, bread and maple syrup. Farm pick-up in Canterbury. Other locations include: Concord, Dover, Epsom, Exeter, Gilford, Londonderry, Salem, Nashua, Portsmouth and Manchester. Partner Distributor Program will deliver right to home or business. brookfordfarminfo@gmail.com

Brasen Hill Farm: Boxed or market vegetable shares available in 3 sizes. Meat shares may include pasture raised pork, goat, lamb, chickens and eggs.  Farm pick-up in Barrington. Additional locations in Northwood and Portsmouth. Contact: farmers@brasenhillfarm.com

Cannons at Noon Family Sheep Farm: Full and half vegetable shares available. June through October. Farm pick-up in Springvale, ME. Additional locations in Saco and York. Contact: cannonsatnoonfarm@gmail.com

Charmingfare Farm: One size vegetable shares. Meat shares may include beef, pork, turkey, chicken, goat, lamb and eggs. Shares include free zoo admission. May through October. Farm Pickup in Candia, NH. Contact: 603-483-5623

Dogrose Farm: Organic one size vegetable CSA shares with meat add-on available. Farm pick-up in Lee. Delivery available for an additional fee. Contact: dogrosefarm@yahoo.com

Fresh Start Farms: A project for the non-profit Organization for Refugee and Immigrant Success. Vegetable CSA shares. Family and single shares available for summer, fall, or full season. Pickup options in Bedford, Concord, Derry, Durham, Londonderry, Manchester, Merrimack, Newmarket, Salem and more. 14 locations total! Delivery to any location in the Greater Manchester or Seacoast area with a minimum of 10 shares. Bi-weekly payments can be made with SNAP/EBT benefits. Contact: freshstartfarmsnh@gmail.com

Heron Pond Farm: Vegetable CSA shares also include both our own small fruit and tree fruit from other New Hampshire farms. Summer and Winter greenhouse shares. Farm pick-up in South Hampton or at residential pick-up locations in Portsmouth and Dover. Add-ons: artisan cheese. Contact: 603-944-9405

McKenzie’s Farm: Flexible choice system. Fruits, veggies, flowers and pumpkins. Pick up at farm in Milton. Contact: mckenziesfarm@hotmail.com

Local Harvest CSA: Certified Organic. This is a multi-farm CSA with flexible options. Vegetable shares with bread option. Pork and Poultry Shares. Fall shares. Pick ups in Concord, NH and surrounding areas. Available June through October. Contact: info@localharvestnh.com

Meadow’s Mirth Farm: Certified organic. Market choice CSA shares include vegetables and fruit. Winter shares, PYO blueberry shares and pastured pork also available. Farm Pick-up in Stratham. Additional locations in Exeter and Portsmouth. Contact: josh@meadowsmirth.com

Mildred’s Drumlin Farm: Certified Naturally Grown. Full and half shares available with egg, bread and chicken add-on options. June through October.  Farm pick-up in Lee, NH. Contact: info@mildredsdrumlinfarm.com

New Hampshire Community Seafood: Seafood shares from June through November. Pick up locations Dracut, Rollinsford, Nashua, Laconia, Canterbury, Manchester, Concord, Warner, Exeter, Dover, Durham, Peterborough, and at pier in Portsmouth. Contact: Andrea Tomlinson 603-767-7209

Orange Circle Farm: Certified Organic. Vegetable CSA. Add-ons: eggs. June through October. Farm pick-up Stratham and Kittery. Contact: jeff@orangecirclefarm.com

Red Manse Farm: Certified organic. CSA shares include vegetables, maple syrup, shiitake mushrooms, tree fruit. Pick ups locations in Northwood, Alton, Laconia, and Hooksett. Flexible Farm Patron Program on site farm in Loudon also available. Contact: earl@redmansefarm.com

Rimrack FishA trusted harvester of local, wild caught groundfish, Shrimp, Scallops, Squid, Herring, Silver Hake (Whiting) and Butterfish of the highest quality. Contact: Padi.anderson@gmail.com

Riverside Farm: Flexible choice CSA shares include vegetables and all products sold at farm stand including bedding plants, breads, pies and more. Farm pick-up in North Berwick. Contact: farmerdave@riversidefarmstand.com

Sirois Family Farm: Certified Organic. Vegetables, Meat, Eggs, and Bread available in CSA shares. Contact: SiroisFamilyFarm@ymail.com

Spiller Farm: Berries, vegetables, and apples. Affordable 18 week, 2 person CSA share beginning in June. Farm pick-up in Wells, ME.  Contact: spillerfarm@maine.rr.com

Sticks and Stones: Non-GE seed. Hydroponic vegetable shares. Antibiotic free pork and chicken shares. Flexible payment options. Contact: info@sticksandstonesfarm.net

Stone Wall Farm: Certified Organic farm offering summer/fall CSA shares including a wide variety of veggies, herbs, and flowers with pickup at the Portsmouth Farmers’ Market. Contact: charliereid@ttlc.net

Stout Oak Farm: Certified Organic. Vegetable CSA shares and Farm Store Credit shares available. Add-on: eggs. Farm pickup in Brentwood.  Contact: stoutoakfarm@gmail.com

Three River Farmers Alliance: Multi- farm format! Products are sourced from 4 different area farms: Stout Oak, Heron Pond Farm, Meadow’s Mirth, and Tuckaway Farm. Weekly orders can be placed online or using the Three Rivers Mobile app. Deliveries are made to Manchester, Seacoast and North Shore, MA. Contact: erin@threeriverfa.com

Two Toad Farm:  Summer Vegetable shares in Lebanon, ME; Marketshares in Sanford, ME, Portsmouth and Somersworth, NH. (save 20% at our markets on anything we sell); and a Seedling CSA (pre-planned garden).  Contact: twotoadfarmer@gmail.com

Wake Robin Farm: Vegetable shares available. Add-ons: meat and eggs.  Farm pick-up in Stratham. Additional locations: Dover, Durham, Rye. Add-ons: meat and eggs. Contact: abigailwiggin81@gmail.com

White Cedar Farm: No-spray. Flexible choice gift card program; vegetables, eggs, pork. Additional local items available at farm stand. Farm pick-up in Kingston and markets in Dover, Exeter, Portsmouth, and Salem. Contact: whitecedarfarmnh@gmail.com

Willoughby Farm at Kensington: Certified Organic Vegetable CSA, with pickups in Kensington and Concord. Contact: willoughbyfarm@myfairpoint.net  

Wolf Pine Farm: Summer and Winter shares for pickup in Alfred and Portland available with flexible payment plans. Vegetable share June through October. Grill share (Grass-fed beef, pork sausage, whole chicken) is a one time pickup in July. Delivery available for an additional fee. Contact: farmers@wolfpinefarm.com

Vernon Family Farm: Free choice, debit style CSA. You choose what you want at time of pick-up. Items available include vegetables, mushrooms, dried flowers and chicken products. Multiple share options for pickup at our Newfields farm store. Contact: Vernonfamilyfarm@gmail.com

(Courtesy of Seacoast Eat Local and Seacoast Harvest) This list is a healthy sampling of the various types of CSAs. A comprehensive list of Farms offering CSA shares can be found at Seacoast Harvest.

6 Responses to Eating Local: Your Ultimate Guide to Seacoast CSA Programs

  1. Anelia Parish May 16, 2016 at 12:46 pm #

    Jennifer, your amazing CSA knowledge is just what I have been needing and I am so grateful that we are now connected! Thank you for this beautiful and uber informative post 🙂

    • Jen May 23, 2016 at 8:01 pm #

      Thanks Anelia. I was commenting on your post the other day and got sidetracked! 🙂

  2. Allison May 16, 2016 at 1:02 pm #

    Thanks for sharing this! I see so many of these awesome farms at the Portsmouth Farmer’s Market. It’s great to know they have CSAs available.

  3. colleen May 16, 2016 at 3:45 pm #

    so much great info!!! i am bookmarking this!

  4. Krysten May 16, 2016 at 8:39 pm #

    What a comprehensive and interesting post on CSAs! I never knew they existed. Also, your profile is just as fun to read as your blog. Can’t wait to hear more about your “trades.” Lots for me to learn!

  5. Amanda May 18, 2016 at 4:01 pm #

    This blog post is my dream come true!!! Thank you so much for these resources, can’t wait to eat some delicious local food this summer 🙂